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Personal Suffering 101

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey
The Truth Network Radio
July 21, 2021 12:00 am

Personal Suffering 101

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey

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July 21, 2021 12:00 am

Trials are a classroom for faith and suffering is the teacher. But what is it supposed to teach us?

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How could this beaten bleeding apostle do anything other than right at this moment quit all your friends told you not to go to Jerusalem and begged you in a waft of your heart was broken when, anyway, believing it to be the will of God.

Now the church doesn't stand with you and you're sort of thrust out in the open to do something that really isn't the best to do and now the mob is incited and you are being beaten to death. I think this is where I'm throwing white towel back over your life lessons you have only learned by suffering we don't always realize it at the time but God uses difficulties in our lives to mold and shape us trials are a classroom for faith and suffering is the teacher. But what is it supposed to teach us working to explore that more today. This current series through the last chapters of acts is from our vintage wisdom archives Stephen Devi first delivered the series back in 1998 were airing it again now. As we examine the important events of the early church and its leaders. Today's message is called personal suffering 101 Qubec acts now. Chapter 21 pick up our study, by the way you remember the call is just left for Jerusalem.

In spite of all of his friends weeping and begging him not to go number. His heart was breaking. He followed through with what he believed God wanted him to do. Given that no one else agreed with him. Now the crushed spirit in a heavy heart, he leaves for his beloved Jerusalem pick it up there with verse 15 and after these days, we got ready and started on our way to Jerusalem and some of the disciples from Caesarea also came with us taking estimation of Cyprus, a disciple of long standing, with whom we were the Lodge and when we had come to Jerusalem. The brethren received this gladly arching glad to hear that word.

This is this is frankly the only bright spot in the whole story of Paul's visit to Jerusalem is will soon discover the heart of Paul was hungering for his return home and for his beloved city and was the city of the apostles.

It was the city with the spirit of God descended birth the church and and he was so filled up to the brim with the news it would got it had accomplished in his missionary journeys over these last three journeys heat he was so fallen ready and so it's wonderful to read the brethren received this gladly and what a wonderful reunion.

This must've been verse 18 and now the following day, Paul went in with us to James and all the elders were present. Now stop evidently here. This is a more official meeting. Luke writes the Paul went in with us he inserts himself into this and he says we went in before James the leading elder and the rest of the elders. James, who by the way, was already well known for his what we would call a best seller.

Even though they were for sale.

He had now been circulating his letter we call the book of James for some 12 years and all the elders here were present. Some believe that the church had adopted the Sanhedrin nest's approach in the Jewish culture by electing 70 elders and obviously that the size of Jerusalem's church required a great number of elders to lead it as its true in any New Testament church where there is growth. You can imagine this scene as Paul introduces to them his fellow missionaries then perhaps James turned and said well gentlemen were glad you're here and let me introduce the elders to you and so they had their their exchange and there are pleasantries and then following these greetings verse 19 tells us that Paul began detailing for them. In fact, it tells us that he related to them one by one the things which God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry.

Although Paul is the returning missionary dozen of a slide presentation or any brochures or handouts I can't help but imagine that these elders sat on the edge of their seats. As Paul described to them.

These harrowing adventures. His narrow escapes from death. The stoning is in the beatings that midnight rescue from jail when there was an earthquake and he was released with his companion Silas. He told them of how the magicians were silenced and how miracles were performed. He told them of the first convert in all of Europe and the stories came and I imagine that those men who are fairly parochial just sat there with their mouths open. Wow.

All of this is happening. He gives it to them.

I'm sure with great passion and joy. What an incredible report of God's power and the spread of the gospel of Christ. Now verse 20 and when they heard it, they began glorifying God she can only imagine what else could you do. I only wish there was an! There instead of that little word and there was so much to celebrate, but the celebration hardly has a chance to get off the ground and they said to them, you see brother how many thousands there are among the Jews of those who believed and they are all zealous for the law.

Excuse me, what were we just talking about what we just talking about the thousands of Gentiles to come to faith in Christ the Redeemer worldly just sort of on the verge of a long celebration. Imagine Paul standing there and he has his party balloon Artie blown up and is ready to celebrate see ladies and gentlemen Jewish pride. Prejudice is still alive so thousands of Gentiles of come the faith fall well. Thousands of Jews come to faith and pay our zealous for the law.

That's something to celebrate over all that's exciting news. You can almost hear the air going out of Paul's balloon is not all verse 21 and they that is the thousands of Jewish converts and they have been told about you, what you notice the accusation and just in the words chosen and they have been told about you that you are teaching all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses telling them not to circumcise their children, nor to walk according to the customs it is and gentlemen is simply is not true. He had earlier in chapter 16 taken Timothy the half Gentile half Jew young pastor and in order not to offend any Jewish congregants suggested that Timothy be circumcised that he made sure that it happened. This is not a man is telling people to forsake their heritage, as it were. There's a fine line here in this room are in his accusation.

He was not against the law. He was simply for grace. Did you notice the inflammatory nature of now.

The rumor verse 21.

Again, you are teaching all the Jews were among the Gentiles the what. Forsake Moses those are fighting words now and that's simply not true. Thousands to get that thousands of Jews in the Jerusalem church, and surrounding region has been poisoned now against Paul. But isn't that the enemy is designed for rumors, slander separates close friends that ever happened to you baby within the context of your family. You have been misunderstood something you said was misinterpreted and one of the characteristics of that tuition is that the person being talked about is never invited to the discussion. So, you were never invited he found out later happens in the church as well find it interesting as I was studying that so many of the commentators caused her to talk about the subject and one of them. Charles Swindoll gives some interesting analogy here as he talks about the danger of this in the church.

He says it this way, the local church is one of Satan's favorite seed beds for growing a weedy crop of misunderstandings. He tells our thoughts like soil mixing in a shovelful of good intentions, a bag full of prejudice and a few pellets of pride any scatters and accusing word here and inflammatory comment. There and waits for them to germinate. Will Paul was miles away, and without them even knowing it is character and his mission is being rented to the ground by by gossip.

He went on.

Swindoll did to create an interesting scenario and that maybe it's been played out. I'm sure it has but is probably played out on the family scene, but he puts it in the context of the church and he picks on the pastor. I guess he can do that and I can read it because we are.

He said this, here's the story quote. I think we ought to pray for the pastor's son, Kenny, Doug says those like you that the church picnic.

I forgot the matches to start the barbecue and as I was asking her and Kenny said he had some now only 17-year-old boy be doing with the book of matches and last unless he smokes.

June finished the accusation will maybe nothing. I know that when I was a kid. Only the smokers carry matches next day June's talking on the phone.

Yes Galilean I can believe that. I've always thought Kenny's car was a bit flashy and and you say Georgeanne thought she heard them screeching out of the school parking lot in a Doug thinks he smoking to. I wonder what his home life is like two months later. I feel that we ought to do something about this in a church session. I don't like it anymore than you do. But if the pastors on a smoking marijuana drag racing down the boulevard and rebelling against his parents. What is this say about his family and there goes well, it wouldn't be humor supports a true there's something about our nature that loves to get in on. In fact, if you ever notice that for rumor to travel.

It has to be salacious. It has to be tempting it has to be negative. You would never say listen, don't tell anybody but the couple's marriage over there say anything anything giant in our Sunday school class. Don't pass this around it. He's growing in Christ say anything. Who would not.

Interesting. I want to know if he's falling of his life coming apart of his marriage is the same rating the kind of stuff that'll fly Paul is teaching people to walk away to forsake my business until I heard so by the time he comes back it is for the most part too late and now in verse 22. Let's return here to this meeting and some 80 men are embroiled in this now and the question comes from the leadership. What then is to be done. Almost as if they asked Paul. Paul what are you going to do about it, you fix it you started it, what then is to be done well. I tried to climb into the scene and and I can tell you what can't be done before we look any further. Quit looking further. What can't be done, I can tell you this, what can't be done for Paul at this point is for someone to exonerate his character completely. What can't be done now that his motives have been questioned in his leadership of the European missionary movement is now under a cloud of cysts mission that Paul is leading people astray tell you you can't bring back all the things that have been said Kenya Ken Hughes in his commentary on this passage, retold the legendary story of the peasant woman who repeated a bit of gossip about a neighbor and within a short time. You know the village and heard the story and sometime thereafter the slender person of course was hurt and unhappy of the lady responsible for foretelling the story to begin with, discovered that it wasn't all completely true.

There had been another side to the story so she went to an old wise say and asked him what should I do to correct this wrong and the wise old sage said well I tell you what you do want to go to the market and I want you to purchase a foul and have it killed and then on the way home. I want you to pluck its feathers and drop the feather in front of every home in your village where she thought that was strange advice, but she did it the next day she came back to him and she said I followed your advice and have laid the feathers at each doorstep of the homes in my village.

Now what, and this sage said now I want you to go and retrieve those feathers so she set about to do that and she arrived from doorstep to doorstep. She discovered that the wind during the night and scattered the feathers about and she could only find two or three. To her dismay, she came back to the wise old sage and she had her two or three feathers in her hand and and it was then that he said now you see it's easy to drop your words there like feathers but like feathers. Your words are impossible to completely retrieve unfounded or not these rumors were spreading so much so that you pick up the implication of the last part of verse 22. They say Paul. What then is to be done, they will certainly hear that you have come there and find out Paul that figure here what we supposed to do all these Jews will know and there's trouble in other words, you get the implication that there saying something like, listen Paul we like you, but go on another missionary journey and make this a real long to discover the New World nurse or something they they view him, almost like the cartoon characters portrayed in Charlie Brown in a pig pen every time he shows up. He's surrounded by a cloud of dirt and Austin. He never goes anywhere without attracting a smudge or two that is always like that with with Paul. Paul everywhere you go you cause trouble the last time you were in Jerusalem. There was a rift in the church. The Jews and Gentiles. We had to have his counsel.

There was great dissension and then he laughed and now you're back. And guess what the troubles started again. Paul what to do. There you find that you're here now.

I want you to slip in the polls, sandals, businesses, this is a real easy place to what would you at this point do I like to, but this is where I I'd I deliver little speech right what you mean, what is to be done. Here is a wonderful opportunity. I can imagine it not going to is my first to advance the truth of the gospel. The stage is set. There's all kinds of trouble and and these rumors are flying and spreading is a wonderful, ripe opportunity to teach these people the difference between law and grace and the definition of salvation. Let's get on with that and furthermore, as we try to act and feel like Paul must've felt what you mean about this. You have been told I am teaching others to forsake Moses told you that where are they. Where's the evidence is not throw. But guess what, no lecture, the self-defense no pity party. Nothing. Why not. I think it's because we read earlier Paul wanted to personally experience the fellowship of Christ's sufferings and when Christ was misunderstood and misinterpreted and his character maligned Jesus Christ refused to defend himself, that I may know him the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of his suffering for following in your nose. Let me give you five things he didn't do as he provides for some models for suffering misunderstanding. Number one he didn't retaliate. Number two.

He didn't allows emotions blur his judgment number three in this list of things. One commentator came up with that I thought were well worth repeating. His attitude was not vindictive for he didn't run from his accusers, and last and most importantly, he had a settled confidence that God was in control. Verse 23 therefore do this, we tell you we have four men who are under eval take them and purify yourself along with them and pay their expenses in order that they may shave their heads and all will know that there is nothing to the things which they have been told about you but that you yourself also walk orderly keeping the law.

Where's the plan of four men from the church are fulfilling a Nazirite vow. That's a valid abstain from even whining and dead not to cut their hair for 30 days. So Paul you think of the expenses for these four men, which by the way, it was a rather expensive proposition for you. You by the animal offerings. Three per person plus the serial offerings in the drink offerings. This was quite costly endeavor and Paul. You also go through seven days of ritual purification and then when you do that all the people out there that are maligning your character misunderstanding your attitude or the law that get the picture and they'll know that that you're okay and that he will be off.

Not exactly what should have been done but it wasn't a violation of the truth of the gospel. During this period of transition. Paul's point would have been that none of these things were necessary for purification, but they could be uses outward symbols of purification before God. In fact Paul earlier in the chapter, we noticed a Nazirite vow. So Paul you sponsor them and and this will show in all your dear not all that bad. They ran from the accusations. Basically, verse 25 but concerning the Gentiles who have believed.

We wrote, having decided that they should abstain from meat sacrificed to idols and from blood and from what is strangled and from fornication.

Then Paul took the men shocking words of humility to me than Paul took the men in the next day purifying himself along with them. Imagine the great apostle of grace, purifying himself along with four young men giving notice of the completion of the days of purification into the sacrifice was offered for each one of them and when the seven days were almost overnight notice this, the Jews from Asia.

Upon seeing him in the temple began to stir up all the multitude, and laid hands on him, crying out men of Israel come to our aid. This is the man who preaches to all men everywhere against our people and the law and displays, and besides he has even brought Greeks into the temple and has defiled this holy place and take a Gentile and that so far in the temple or derby defilement, for they had previously seen trophy miss the Ephesian Gentile in the city with him and they suppose there you have it again. They suppose that Paul had brought him into the temple, and all the city was aroused and the people rice together and taking hold of Paul. They dragged him out of the temple and immediately the doors were shut, and while they were seeking to kill him. A report came up to the command of the Roman cohort that all Jerusalem was in confusion. He stopped her long enough to say the city was in confusion only after the church was in confusion ended.

Once he took along some soldiers and centurions and ran down to them and when they saw the commander and the soldiers they said stopped beating Paul, then the commander came up and took hold of him and ordered him to be bound with two chains and began asking who he was and what he had done among the crowd. Some were shouting one thing and some another in when he could not find out the facts on account of the uproar, he ordered him to be brought into the barracks and when he got to the stairs. It so happened that he was carried by the soldiers because of the violence of the mob another day to pick Paul up above the mob to keep them from reaching and beating him further and the multitude of people Following behind. Crying always went away when 10 those words away with him are the same Greek words that were screened some 30 years earlier at none other than Jesus Christ. Paul is experiencing the fellowship of the suffering Christ. How could this beaten bleeding apostle do anything other than right at this moment quit. What would you have to all your friends told you not to go to Jerusalem, they begged you and they wafted your heart was broken and you win anyway, believing it to be the will of God and now the church doesn't stand with you and in your sort of thrust out in the open to do something that really isn't the best of to do and and now the mob is incited and you are being beaten to death. I think this is where I throw in the white towel when you why did he quit. Well, I think because he had a passion for people and had a love for his nation and he had a desire to speak the gospel even if it meant he was understood misunderstood in this reported and heard and even killed. Ultimately, ladies and gentlemen, it was his passion and his surrender to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of his sufferings to one and not owned by means of personal experience what it's like to be like him.

When little little was the football coach at Georgetown University, a rather remarkable event occurred, it was just a few days before all of a big game with an arc University rival little little of them preparing his Georgetown team and on his team was a fairly ordinary player that was one of the scrub players second somewhere between second and third string and there's a neat kid in coach like them. One of the things that impressed coach little as he recorded this event was that he had seen this young man walking across campus with his elderly father, arm in arm. He was pressed by the a few days before the game.

This young man received a call from his hometown that his father had died unexpectedly and suddenly from a heart attack so the young man with Homan was there for the funeral and in the events surrounding that for a few days, but on the day of the game. This young man was back on campus and in coach little's office, pleading with him. Would you please start me tonight in the game. Just put me in and in and start me. I really believe this is what my father would appreciate most knowing that this young man had a close relationship with his father. After some hesitation. Little said okay lookers will do a put you in, but it will be just for a player to an employee out all right. That's fine coach to start the night of the game arrived in and the time arrived in, and true to his word coach little put this young man in and he started and he never took them back out because for 60 minutes. This young man ran and blocked and tackled like an All-American with great passion play the entire game. Outstanding after the game.

The coach called him aside and coach little said son. What in the got into you to play like that young man coach little recorded said this, he said you know my father died which you probably didn't know was that my father was totally blind.

This is the first game he seen me play my friend how do you play the game of life. When you take those tough knocks of misunderstanding of those blinds signs of misinterpreting your best of intentions, nose, crushing blow was calm is only when you play to the audience. One Paul played to the audience of one and that one was Jesus Christ in Christ alone for joining us today here on wisdom for the heart. You've been listening to our Bible teacher, Stephen Devi, were currently in a series through the closing chapters of acts from our vintage wisdom archives. I encourage you to install our app to your phone so that you can quickly access all of our Bible-based resources. We also have a magazine that includes articles written by Stephen to help you explore various topics related to the Christian life magazine also has a daily devotional guide that you can use to remain grounded in God's word every day.

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